Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Tavish Scott MSP today criticised the Scottish Government for failing to give teachers the support they need after new figures revealed nearly £400 million was spent on supply teachers during the last 5 years.
A freedom of information request by the Scottish Liberal Democrats has shown that £391.5 million was spent on supply teachers between 2011/12 and 2015/16.
This is the equivalent of £215,000 a day for the duration of the SNP majority government.
The most recent figures indicate that there were 627 teacher vacancies in schools across Scotland in November.
Commenting, Mr Scott said:
“Despite a slight decrease, around £200,000 a day is still being spent on providing supply teachers. With over 600 teacher vacancies at present, many people will be asking whether some of this money could be better spent on making sure that schools have sufficient staff in the first place.
“While there are many excellent supply teachers, who do great work stepping in at often very short notice, children benefit from continuity. We can’t afford for our classrooms to have revolving doors.
“Teachers have been put under immense pressure. The SNP have squeezed education budgets. Education Scotland handed down 20,000 pages of guidance on Curriculum for Excellence.
“This has had a detrimental effect on teachers and the quality of our children’s education. We have seen Scotland’s educational standing slip. And it was little surprise to learn, thanks to another Scottish Liberal Democrat investigation last week, that teachers have taken half a million days off work due to mental ill health. It is time the SNP Government gave teachers the support they need.
“The Liberal Democrat penny for education plan would raise £500 million to transform our education system. It would allow councils to reverse SNP education cuts and provide extra support in every classroom. That is the way to give every child the best start in life.”